The continent is making it through a tough pandemic and an even harder economic slump. Leaders within hotels, lodges, guesthouses and even BnBs are rethinking what’s next in the life after COVID-19. Will travel go back to normal or will travellers have greater expectations of them? How do hoteliers prepare for this new season?
From re-purposing a property to adapting new strategies, hoteliers need to consider how to secure a strong come-back once the industry restarts. This requires changes beyond operations and strict hygiene measures.
In the early days of the global Covid-19 pandemic we saw countries reactivate decommissioned hospitals, construct emergency hospital facilities, and repurpose exhibition centres, sport halls and hotels, to create additional treatment and quarantine capacity. For this to work, strict hygiene measures and specific technical prerequisites had to be taken into account as part of the complex task of recommissioning and repurposing buildings. Moreover, handovers to health authorities had to be done quickly to meet the rapidly rising demand for quarantine facilities.
At the surface, it appears every industry, including the hospitality industry will be changed forever. Not just from a hotel operations perspective, but in terms of asset management. An important question to ask is how well prepared your property is for a restart in Hospitality 2.0 in the post Covid-19 era.
The travel and tourism industry – and as a result the hotel industry – is under immense pressure with many hotels having had to shut down partially or completely, owners and operators suffering immense revenue losses with largely unchanged fixed costs, coupled with uncertainty about future demand for hotel rooms. To secure a successful restart, now is the time to plan for operational optimisation, to validate a property’s business model and to adjust the operating concept for long-term value creation potential, as well as assess the possible re-use or repurposing of hotels, or parts of them.
Given the expected new legal requirements and hygiene regulations for the travel and tourism industry, hotels will need to develop new operational solutions to position themselves optimally for a restart. What are the critical considerations to prepare a hotel for operation in the post Covid-19 hospitality era? Here are a few:
- In compliance with new hygiene expectations and regulations, you will need to review your property’s cleaning and sanitisation processes, including the use of UV lights and special medical-grade cleaning materials approved for hotels
- Reconsider the use of specific fabrics, furniture, fixtures and amenities in the guest rooms including items such as loose carpets, remote controls, minibars and light switches to ensure a hygienic environment for both staff and guests
- It is important to optimise the flow of fresh and recycled air throughout the property’s air-conditioning system to avoid the spread of viruses that are potentially airborne
- With digital and contactless services becoming the norm, ensure your hotel’s readiness for the digitisation of core operational processes such as check-in and check-out and the use of mobile room keys
- Analyse the property’s operational workflows and study staff and guest movement to optimise space and occupation levels to ensure adherence to social distancing guideline, which are likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future
- Re-engineer the laundry and linen operations as well as garbage disposal protocols and consider the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and the implementation of sealable laundry and garbage bags
- Assess and validate the hotel’s current business model and operating concept and assess the possible re-use or repurposing options within the property including alternative rental and lease models for specific spaces